Royal Ascot market mover Armory has too much ammunition for Huxley Stakes rivals
Cox Plate runner-up Armory earned a chance to bid for top-level glory closer to home with a last-to-first win in the Melodi Media Huxley Stakes.
The Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup and Prince of Wales's Stakes are options for the four-year-old, who was beaten just a length and a quarter in Australia's biggest weight-for-age race last October.
The son of Galileo quickened smartly to take this Group 2, pushed out by three lengths under Ryan Moore, and trainer Aidan O'Brien said: "We were delighted, he's really matured.
"He has an unbelievable turn of foot, which is a great thing in a horse because you don't mind if they go fast or they go slow.
"He's done very well over the winter, he had a lovely run in Australia last year but things didn't really work out for him so we're delighted."
Armory is quoted at 6-1 for the Prince of Wales's by Paddy Power, and O'Brien added: "We were thinking after this he might go for the Tattersalls Gold Cup or the Prince of Wales's, but probably the Prince of Wales's.
"He has plenty of pace, but we always thought he'd get ten furlongs. When you have a horse who quickens like that it's a bonus, and Ryan gave him a lovely ride."
Green shoots clear
Venetia Williams had not had a Flat winner since 2012, but her Green Book was backed from from an overnight 14-1 into 5-1 and the money proved spot-on.
The Grand National-winning trainer knows well enough to book Franny Norton and leave tactics to him, and the track's top jockey made all to land the Chester Plate by nearly five lengths.
"When I saw Venetia there was no instruction," Norton said. "She said 'do what you need to do, you know the course'.
"I wasn't going to make the running, but he had 8st 6lb and once they let me control the race I'm going to take that with both hands. He couldn't have done it any better."
Success came at the track where Williams struck with her first Flat runner when Stretarez took the Ormonde Stakes in 1998.
With a runner at Chester today, here’s a piece of history... Our first ever runner on the flat, Stretarez, won the Group 3 Ormonde Stakes (run yesterday). It still remains the only time a Group race has been won with a debut flat runner. Lester Pigott ro… https://t.co/LfwaJzVU5L pic.twitter.com/nIJWotbXhv— Venetia Williams (@VenetiaWRacing) May 7, 2021
El of a speedster
Long-serving sprinter El Astronaute showed he has lost none of his early dash as he launched his seventh season with an all-the-way win in the 5f conditions stakes.
Quickly away and always in command, he made it three wins at a track where he has never finished worse than third in seven visits.
Trainer John Quinn's son and assistant Sean marvelled: "He's just so fast out of the stalls. It looked like he won the race there.
"He got lengths over his rivals and was always going to be hard to catch from that point."
El Astronaute, who was third in the Prix de l'Abbaye in 2019, is now eight, but Quinn said: "He's a fantastic horse to train, you can take him to all these big meetings and he shows up – even when he doesn't win he runs well.
"You see these sprinters go on for years and he's a credit to himself."
Ferry good effort
A missed break often ends your chances here, but Grove Ferry fought back from a messy start in the 7½f handicap to earn jockey David Probert his 50th winner of the year.
"He did most things wrong, really," said the rider. "He missed the break and normally that's the end of things. I think it helped that they got racing a long way out. He seemed to relish the ground and hit the line very well."
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